Growing plum trees in Perth

| October 31, 2021 | 0 Comments

How to grow plum trees in Perth

Growing plum trees in Perth

Plums are stone fruit of species in Prunus subg. Prunus. Mature plum fruits may have a dusty-white waxy coating that gives them a glaucous appearance. Dried plums are called prunes, which have a dark, wrinkled appearance. There is something delightful about that first bite into a fresh plum! You can eat them on their own, or enjoy them in smoothies, use them in a tart or even in a salad.

If you have ever wondered how to grow plums in Perth then look no further. Plum trees are a simple fruit tree to grow, but there are still a few tricks to successfully growing plums in Perth, Western Australia. Get these right and you will be laughing.

When to plant plum trees in Perth:
The best time to plant deciduous fruit trees, like plums, is when they are dormant, in winter and early spring.

Types of plum trees in Australia:
Plums belong to the Rosaceae family, with apricots, nectarines, peaches, cherries, and almonds joining the cluster of stone fruits. There are two types of plums: the European plum, which is suited to cool climates and the Japanese plum, which grows better in warmer areas.

Plums are vigorous trees growing to 4 x 4m. Plums require cross pollination in most cases.

  • Amber Jewel Plum: Sweet amber coloured flesh and red blushed skin. Pollinate with Santa Rosa. Matures January.
  • LittleChum Plum (Cherry Plum): Small rounded to heart shaped, red skinned fruit. Small, seed size and juicy, yellow flesh which has a lovely balance of plum and cherry flavours. Clingstone. An upright tree due to its plum and cherry parentage. Pollinates with Primetime, Santa Rosa and Louisa.
  • Lusia Plum: A self-pollinating variety producing distinctive heart-shaped, large fruit with red blushed skin and yellow, sweet, juicy flesh. Freestone. Matures late January to early February.
  • Mariposa Plum: Produces large, heart-shaped fruit with red flesh and a good flavour. It has a good keeping quality. Semi freestone. Matures mid January. Pollinates with Ruby Blood, Satsuma or Santa Rosa.
  • Primetime Plum: Medium to large, heart shaped fruit. Red to purple coloured skin. Flesh is yellow with some pinky-red colouration diffused throughout. Pollinates with Santa Rosa. Clingstone variety, maturing late December to early January. Grows to 4 x 4m.
  • Ruby Blood Plum: Juicy, freestone, blood Plum. Dark red to purple tinged skin, dark red flesh. Matures mid-late February. Pollinate with Mariposa, Santa Rosa or Satsuma. Santa Rosa: Produces excellent, tasty, yellow fleshed fruit with crimson skin. Clingstone. Matures late December. Pollinates with Ruby Blood, Satsuma or Mariposa.
  • Satsuma Plum: Produces delicious, juicy blood coloured fruit with dark red skin and flesh. Freestone. Matures mid-January. Pollinates with Santa Rosa or Mariposa.

Dwarf plums Perth:
These are the common varieties of dwarf plum trees you can find in Australia:

When growing in pots or small spaces, choose a dwarf varieties, such as Ruby Blood, Satsuma or Mariposa Dwarf plums. Remember, you’ll need at least two fruit trees for fruit set, but if you don’t have room, grow Santa Rosa Dwarf plum, which is self-fertile.

Dwarf Plums grow to 1.5-2.5m tall. Ideal for small garden and large tubs. Plums require cross pollination unless you purchase a self-fertile variety of course.

  • Dwarf Gulf Ruby Plum: Produces large, yellow fleshed fruit, with pink-red skin. Matures early to mid-December. Considered self-pollinating but will pollinate with Santa Rosa or Sunrise Gulf. A low chill, clingstone variety.
  • Dwarf Mariposa Plum: Produces large, heart-shaped fruit with red flesh and a good flavour. It has a good keeping quality Semi freestone. Matures mid-January. Pollinates with Ruby Blood, Satsuma or Santa Rosa.
  • Dwarf Plumcott Spring Satin Plum: A Plum/Apricot cross. Produces showy white flowers, followed by yellow/red fleshed fruit with rich, dark plum coloured skin. Matures late November to early December. Partly self-pollinating, but better with a pollinator like Plum Mariposa. Grows 2m high.
  • Dwarf Santa Rosa Plum: Produces excellent, tasty, yellow fleshed fruit with crimson skin. Clingstone. Matures late December. Pollinates with Ruby Blood, Satsuma or Mariposa.
  • Dwarf Satsuma Plum: Produces delicious, juicy blood coloured fruit with dark red skin and flesh. Freestone. Matures mid-January. Pollinates with Santa Rosa or Mariposa.
  • Dwarf Sunrise Gulf Plum: Produces small, red blushed fruit with yellow flesh. Well suited to the metro area and coastal districts. Matures early December. Pollinates with Gulf Ruby.

How to grow plum trees at home:
Growing plum trees at home is easy, fun and rewarding! Below are the steps on how to how to grow plum trees in Australia;

  1. Choose a sunny spot with well drained soil. If the soil is clay based, add gypsum and fork in well.
  2. Dig the planting hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the root-ball. Remove the shrub from the container, gently tease the roots and cut away any circled or tangled roots.
  3. Position in hole and backfill, gently firming down. Form a raised or doughnut shaped ring of soil around the outer edge of the plant’s root zone. This helps keep water where it’s needed. Water in well after planting to settle the soil around the roots and keep the soil moist for several weeks while the new plant establishes roots.
  4. Mulch with an organic mulch, such as wood chips or pea straw ensuring to keep it away from the trunk.
  5. Water deeply, once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions.
  6. Feed your tree once every autumn and late summer with a soil improver and plant fertiliser. When flowering and fruiting, feed weekly with a Citrus Liquid Plant Food to help promote fruit production.

How to grow plums in a pot:
Plums can be grown in pots, at least 60cm wide and deep, to allow the roots to spread. There are a number of dwarf plum varieties available and most varieties can also be grown in pots.

  1. Choose a pot at least 60cm wide. Position in full sun and fill with quality potting mix.
  2. Remove the shrub from the pot gently tease the roots and cut away any circled or tangled roots.
  3. Position in hole and back-fill, gently firming down. Water in your plum tree.
  4. Mulch with an organic mulch, such as wood chips or pea straw ensuring to keep it away from the trunk.
  5. Water deeply, once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions.
  6. Feed your tree in autumn and late summer with a Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver and Plant Fertiliser.
  7. When flowering and fruiting, feed weekly with a Citrus Liquid Plant Food to help promote fruit production.

Planting a plum tree from seed:
You may happen to have sweet and juicy plums and would like to harvest fruit of the same quality. If you want to be rewarded with fresh plums from your own garden, simply follow these tips on how to grow an plum tree from seed:

  1. Harvesting the Seed: Buy plums that were grown locally, so that you ensure it will grow well in WA. Choose the tastiest one to try to plant, since plum seeds often carry on the traits of a parent plant very well.
  2. Set the pit out on a windowsill for a few days to dry: The seed inside the pit will dry and shrink away, and the plum shell will also crack more easily when dried.
  3. Take a small nutcracker: Place the pit horizontally between the two ends. Crack it gently,taking care not to crack too hard as a smashed seed can’t be planted. The seed will look almond-like. This is what you need to sprout and plant.
  4. Fill a glass of water: Drop your seed into it. If it sinks, you can germinate it, and if it floats, you should continue cracking pits until you get a viable seed.
  5. Sprouting the Seed: Soak the seeds overnight in the glass of water. Use room temperature water.
  6. Fill a zip-lock bag two-thirds full of rich potting mix: Wet the soil so that it is moist, but not overly wet. Place the seed or seeds inside the compost and seal the zip-lock bag.
  7. Turn your refrigerator to about 4-5 Celsius: Place the zip-lock in the refrigerator to start the stratification process. This cool, sprouting process germinates the seeds so that they are ready for planting.
  8. Planting: You can then either plant directly in the yard if you have the appropriate amount of space available, or in a large pot and transplant later. It should be a deep pot at least 60cm with drainage holes.

How to prune a Japanese plum tree:

Japanese plum trees should be pruned to a vase shape. This means you’ll have scaffold limbs pointing out from around a central trunk with an open centre.

Check out the step-by-step process to prune a plum tree of any Japanese variety:

  1. The first year, you’ll have a young tree that basically looks like a stick with buds. Prune the stem back to 60-90cm above the ground. After the branches have grown a 5cm+, choose vigorous shoots as lateral branches of your scaffold whorl. Lateral branches should be evenly spaced around the tree.
  2. The first two or three years, cut back the scaffold whorl to 1 bud at the top and 2 buds at the bottom.
  3. Prune out diseased material or damaged wood, and crossing branches. Make clean cuts.
  4. Starting at the lowest limb, cut off suckers, water sprouts, and any shoots or stems growing in towards the centre of the tree or on the trunk below the scaffold limbs. Also remove any secondary growth on the scaffold limbs within half a foot from the trunk. Leave upright shoots that are directed outward.
  5. Cut off one half to one third of one-year-old shoots from the previous season to avoid overproduction of fruit.
  6. Head back scaffold limbs and upright limbs to a manageable height. Non-dwarf plum trees can grow twenty to thirty feet tall, so cut back tree height so you can pick plums. Plus, this will encourage fruit growth in the lower tree branches.

When to harvest plums:
If you are wondering when to pick plums in Australia. They are a summer fruit and typically ready to harvest between December and February. For best flavour, harvest plums when fully ripe. They should be full colour with skin that is soft to touch, using gentle pressure. Fruit should pull away from the branch relatively easily.

Storing plums at home:
Fresh picked plums should be stored at room temperature, away from direct sunlight and heat until they give softly to the touch and have a slightly sweet aroma. Once ripe, refrigerate plums for up to a week as necessary to prevent spoiling, but cold temperatures may change their texture and taste.

Companion plants for plums:
Planting mint around plum trees is a great way to help with aphids, a common garden pest. The sticky sweet secretion produced by aphids attracts ants, which help keep the aphids safe from a natural predator, ladybugs. Planting mint around the base of plum trees will repel ants, and the ladybugs can come in and take care of the aphids. Plum trees often need a bit of help with pollination, and here mint is also helpful. Mint is a late spring bloomer that attracts beneficial pollinating insects to the tree when it is in bloom. I recommend planting mint in pots however as it can be quiet invasive.

Plum tree care and common problems:
Birds are one of the major problems you will face. The answer to this is to net securely, taking care not to bend the branches, or to pick the fruit a little before it is fully mature and ripen it indoors in a single layer on trays. Small insects like earwigs and garden weevils can be a nuisance and are responsible for small holes in the fruit. Treat as needed with a natural repellent.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

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Category: Fruit trees

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